9 Surprising Uses for Alka-Seltzer

That familiar refrain, “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is,” can be applied to many problems that go beyond heartburn or indigestion. Alka-Seltzer, sold in those familiar effervescent tablets, can help you handle a host of issues around the house—and can also provide some fun and entertaining activities for families. The secret lies in Alka-Seltzer’s patented blend of citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and aspirin, which can exert some powerful cleaning power on tough household grime and stains. Here are just a few unexpected ways Alka-Seltzer can come in handy.

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  1. Clean the Coffeemaker

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    If your morning cup of joe tastes a bit stale, use Alka-Seltzer to make it fresh again. Fill your coffeemaker's chamber with water, and drop in four Alka-Seltzer tablets. Let the fizzing action work for 15 minutes, and then run a brew cycle to thoroughly clean the insides. Rinse the chamber two or three times, and finish by running one more brew cycle with plain water before making coffee.


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  2. Banish Bowl Residue

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    A pair of Alka-Seltzer tablets can fizzle away tough toilet bowl stains. Drop in the tablets, wait 20 to 30 minutes, give the bowl a quick once-over with a toilet brush, and flush. Stains will disappear, and the toilet will be left clean and deodorized.


    Related: 8 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Bathroom Ever

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  3. Fashion a Funky Lamp

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    Bring back the spirit of the '60s with a DIY lava lamp. Remove the label from an old soda bottle or other clear plastic container. Fill a quarter of the bottle with water, and then add vegetable oil up to the halfway mark. Add 10 to 12 drops of food coloring before breaking an Alka-Seltzer tablet into six pieces and dropping them into the mixture. To complete the effect, go into a dark room and shine a flashlight through the bottom of the bottle. Groovy!


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  4. Unclog the Drain

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    Get quick relief from a sluggish or clogged drain by dropping a few Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture work for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you hear the fizzing stop. While the Alka-Seltzer is doing its job, boil a kettle of hot water on the stove, then pour it down the drain to rid your pipes of any remaining residue. (If the clog is stubborn, it might require a second treatment.) The bonus? This process will also alleviate unpleasant drain odors.


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  5. Revive Jewelry

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    Make your own inexpensive jewelry cleaner by combining two Alka-Seltzer tablets and a cup of plain water. Place dull or discolored jewelry into the water for a couple of minutes until the fizzing stops, and then rinse with plain water. Your jewelry will shine like new! Don't try this trick with porous jewelry, such as pearls or opals, or delicate pieces, because the citric acid may be damaging.


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  6. Get Glass Sparkling

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    Stubborn stains or wine residue that linger on the bottom of narrow-necked vases or decanters can often be tricky to remove using standard methods. Once again, Alka-Seltzer comes to the rescue: Fill the container halfway with water, and drop in two tablets. Let stand until the fizzing stops, and then rinse the vessel thoroughly with plain water. (The container may need a second application if it's extremely dirty.) You can also use this method to clean a dirty glass thermos.


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  7. Launch a Rocket

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    Make your own DIY paper rocket propelled by Alka-Seltzer. First, tape a toilet paper roll to the center of a paper plate. Then, fill a film canister with one tablespoon of water and an Alka-Seltzer tablet. Quickly put the lid on the canister, and drop it lid-side-down into the toilet paper roll. Step away, and count down to blastoff! You can get more creative by decorating the canister, or keep it simple for an easy, kid-pleasing entertainment.  


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  8. Blast Burnt Food

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    If your glass cooking dishes have acquired a grimy patina of burnt and baked-on food residue, use Alka-Seltzer to blast them clean. Fill the sink with water, and drop in five or six tablets. Place all your gunked-up glass cookware in the sink, and let it soak for about an hour. Lightly scrub and rinse with plain water—the burnt-on bits should easily flake off. Note: For extra cleaning power on tough stains, add a cup of vinegar to the soaking water.


    Related: 10 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar

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  9. Freshen the Fridge

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    Sometimes even the cleanest refrigerator can take on an unappealing smell. Deodorize the fridge with one tablet of Alka-Seltzer in a cup of water. Keep the cup in the fridge for about 30 minutes to eliminate lingering scents. Repeat every week or so to ensure that the appliance retains its fresh scent. 


    Related: How To: Clean Any Appliance

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